Lord of Temptation(Lost Lords of Pembrook,Book 2)(60) by Lorraine Heath
She made her move, garnered no captives, and while it was not very wise strategically, he snatched up another one of her pawns.
“I suppose a corset,” she said sharply.
He’d been considering a shoe, saving the best for last. Instead he heard himself ask, “What became of your mother?”
She might have looked less surprised if he’d said, “By the by, I normally wear women’s clothing when I prance about the ship.”
“She passed,” she finally said. “Three years ago. Influenza. Father had a fondness for her. I don’t know if he loved her. He barely adjusted his stride.”
Tristan didn’t like the thought that popped into his head: if he discovered tomorrow that she had died, he’d have no stride to adjust because the devastation of learning she was no longer in the world would drop him to his knees. These were odd feelings, only for now, only while he was in her presence. Once he was back on the sea, they would leave him. He needed them to leave him. How could he concentrate on his charts, the stars, the storms if he was constantly thinking of her?
“I believe that’s the reason he lost patience with my mourning,” she continued. “It must have been completely incomprehensible to him that I could have been sad and melancholy for so long over someone to whom I was never married.”
“Are you still sad and melancholy?” He didn’t think so, but then he held a tight leash on his emotions.
She gave him an impish smile. “You’ll need to take another piece if you want me to answer that question.”
As she positioned her knight, he considered that perhaps she had answered it. Would her eyes be sparkling with such mischievousness if she were still sad over her betrothed’s passing? Would she be entertaining Tristan now, matching each of his moves with skill and cunning?
And she was entertaining him, but then she always did. From the moment she’d walked into the tavern from the rain, she kept him on his toes, challenged him, intrigued him, made him resent the moment when she would walk away. Everything about her fascinated him. She could be doing little more than sitting there breathing and he was content to watch her.
She grabbed his rook, let her gaze travel over him, and his muscles tensed as he wondered what item of clothing she’d have him remove. Now the game was definitely going to begin to get interesting.
“When you were a boy,” she began, “before you left Pembrook, when you thought of your future, what did you see yourself becoming as a man?”
Another damned question? He’d been halfway toward his buttons. “I’m the second son of a nobleman; I didn’t give it a good deal of thought. My options were few.”
“But they were still there,” she insisted. “Were you going to be a gentleman of leisure? A clergyman—”
“One must believe in God to serve his parishioners.”
Her brow furrowed deeply, until he wanted to reach across and smooth it out. “How can you not? With the wonders you’ve seen—”
“Changing your question, Princess?”
She snapped her mouth closed in a mulish expression. “No.”
It had been a long time, a very long time since he’d thought about his youth. As a rule he never let his thoughts drift farther back than the night they ran away. He stretched out on his side and rose up on an elbow to give himself time to arrange his memories. What had he planned? By fourteen, surely he had some inkling as to what he would do.
“You’ve chastised me before for discussing finances, but our estate provides a very nice income. Part of the reason Uncle no doubt wanted it. I would have had an allowance. I suppose I would have been a good deal like your brothers: drinking, gambling, seeking out the ladies.” He shrugged. “Much as I do now. Only now I have my own coins to toss about. And I would probably dismiss anyone who was not like me.”
Would he look at Mouse and see a cripple, instead of the potential for what he might be? Would he look at Peterson and see a lumbering hulk instead of a man who would protect his back at any cost? Would he see only Jenkin’s surliness and not a man who was hiding secrets, much as he once had?
“My brothers do have a rather narrow view of the world, don’t they?” She arched a brow. “That wasn’t a question, it was merely rhetorical. But I can’t see you being like them.”
Neither could he. He knocked over her bishop. “Take off your left shoe.”
He didn’t like where the questions were going. He didn’t want her to pry into his soul, his past, his regrets. He didn’t want to consider what he might have missed out on, what he might have gained.
Doing as he bid, she tossed the shoe at him. He caught it easily, studied it, concentrated on what he knew from holding her feet in the palms of his hands. He wanted them there now instead of the distance of this board between them. “You have such small feet. However do you walk on them?”
“You took only one piece, Captain.”
“Is that who I am tonight?” he asked. “The captain?”
She scrutinized him. “Aren’t the captain and Lord Tristan one in the same?”
No, he was comfortable as the captain. Knew his place, his role, his destinations. He had goals, dreams for what he would accomplish. Lord Tristan—it was as though he no longer existed.
He’d attended a ball for the sole purpose of dancing with one lady. Did gentlemen go because they wanted to be there? She made a move, he took a pawn. “Do your brothers enjoy attending balls?”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online